Family fears for riparian areas after water release

A family with land just below the Dickson Dam is worried about the ecological repercussions of the recent release of water from the Gleniffer Lake.

A family with land just below the Dickson Dam is worried about the ecological repercussions of the recent release of water from the Gleniffer Lake.

Last week, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development made the decision to release water from the reservoir due to unusual precipitation upstream.

But Angus Mackay’s father lives on the land directly downstream from the dam and the release of water flooded most of their gravel flats.

“It’s washing out birds’ nests, it’s making the river all murky,” said Mackay. “We have blue herons, bald eagles, storks, osprey and golden eagles on our land, never mind the deer and coyotes. Any flood that happens is detrimental to riparian areas.”

According to the Mackays, the flow rates measured on their land were up to 200 metres per second after the water was released.

“It turned parts the deer use to graze into flood zones again,” said Mackay.

Renee Hackney, a public affairs officer for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said ecological concerns are taken into account when the decision to release water from the dam is made.

“They keep water at a certain level during the season,” said Hackney. “There was an Environment Canada heavy rain forecast, and they try to monitor what is expected. They did release some water taking into account potential rainfall and when that rainfall was decreased, they stopped the flow.”

Gerald Aldridge, Red Deer River Watershed Alliance executive director, said natural flooding from heavy rainfall events and the resulting flows could cause ecological harm.

“Maybe above and beyond what might occur if they try to influence or control the flow rate using the dam,” said Aldridge. “I put my hopes in the group that is involved in managing the water and flow rates that they are doing their best to try to lessen flood problems.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com